The men’s soccer team kept its Summit League tournament chances alive, defeating Fort Wayne 1-0 in its last conference game of the season.
In the first half, the Panther defense of senior Edgar Mesa and freshmen Quinn Rechner and Delphy Sabu only gave Fort Wayne two shots in the entire half.
The Panthers did not have junior Shady Omar, who leads the team in scoring because of the red card he received in the Western Illinois game. Despite his loss the Panther offense made the most of one of its three shots in the first half.
In the 32nd minute, junior Jonas Castelhano got a loose ball and fired it into the back of the net to make the score 1-0.
Castelhano became the 10th goal-scorer of the season for the Panthers.
In the second half, Fort Wayne attempted to come back in the game. Fort Wayne shot the ball 12 times with only four on goal.
Redshirt junior goalkeeper Jonathan Burke was able to make saves on each play.
Burke finished the match with four saves, earning him and the defense’s sixth shutout of the season and the third of conference play.
“I have to give a big shoutout to the back three: Edgar Mesa, Quinn and Delphy; they played outstanding and we were able to meet our goal,” Burke said when asked about the team’s shutout. “Our goal was to get three shutouts in conference, and we got that. They were lockdown on defense; nobody was getting past them last night.”
Burke now has recorded 67 saves and has a 1.48 goals against average on the season. Those numbers are respectively third and fourth on the Summit League statistics lists.
With the win, the Panthers improve to 5-8-2. The win propelled the Panthers to fourth place in the Summit League standings and one point ahead of fifth-place Denver.
The 1 through 3 seeds of the tournament have all been decided. Oral Roberts, Western Illinois and Omaha have all clinched at least a spot in the Summit League tourney.
Oral Roberts currently sits in first place and needs a tie or a win against second-place Western Illinois to secure first place.
Western Illinois and Omaha have secured their seeds in the Summit League tournamnet with second and third place respectively.
The Panthers will clinch the final spot in the Summit League tournament if on Nov. 9 Denver loses or ties against Fort Wayne. If Denver defeats Fort Wayne, the Panthers will be eliminated.
Denver in conference play is 1-2-1. Its lone win comes against Omaha in a 2-0 win on the road.
Fort Wayne is 0-4 in all of conferecne play.
“We are going to practice like we are getting ready for the tournament because as of now, we are ahead of Denver,” Burke said. “We don’t know the outcome, but we are going to expect that they lose and we are in. Keeping the mentality right and sticking to our gritty play.”
The Panthers have one match remaining this season. Saturday, the Panthers will play a non-conference game on the road against Green Bay at 5 p.m.
“I’m excited for the game against Green Bay,” Burke said. “We are really wanting to get that result to finish with six wins on the season in which this program has not seen in awhile.”
Green Bay is currently 5-7-2. Green Bay’s leading score is Freddi Ortega, who has scored three goals on the season.
Blake Faith can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]